Bergen

All the pics are in this folder: http://chimaira.yagr.com/~lake/Oslo/?path=./bergen/ but below I referenced some of the subfolders.

So, I come to this city with the initial idea to see Meshuggah live and do some sightseeing then go back to Oslo and have the memories of a nice first trip in Norway (outside Oslo). But the days before departure, I looked up some photos on the web, the things to see there, I was told about its beauty and that I could have the time of my life there. So, welcome high expectations and I was like a bunny in a Duracell comercial the day before the departure. But it was aaaaalll worth it. Big times.

I think I had a pretty lucky day on Friday. Maybe I should have played the lottery as well,hm. It started at Oslo S where you have to buy those tickets for the train to the airport. There are sepparate selling machines and I chose one and when I wanted to pay with my Norwegian bank card (not a Visa yet) it wasn’t accepted. So I tried my Romanian Visa and luckily it had enough money on it to pay the 160 kr.

Flight was nice – as usual when I sit by the window – and I was even more excited to see all those mountains on the way, some lakes and SNOW. Not a lot of it, but enough to cover few peaks and valleys and make me feel like jumping out of the plane and just go hiking. It was gorgeous. See here

Airport in Bergen is pretty small and there is a shuttle bus taking you from there to the city center. I sat in the queue and at somepoint I realized I didn’t take any cash out and the bus probably doesn’t take cards. So I start searching my pockets and all the coins I found summed up to exactly 80 kr (what the bus costed). So luck number two. In the bus, the driver spoke so slowly in Norwegian that I understood almost everything. I thought it was because he was an old man, but lately I was to find out it is the local accent. Guess I should go there more often and practice my currently inexistent Norwegian skills.

I stepped off at one of the stations in the center. The driver explained nicely where each station is located and the next one was at the tourist information (probably the right place to start a visit) but because of the nice view, I took off earlier than that. Then, after taking the first few photos, I watched where the bus went, so I walked in that direction and ended up at the Info office. But before going in, I was astonished by the looks of the city. There are hills all around, with small Norwegian (or Scandinavian ?) houses scattered all over through forests and making you feel happy just to be there and get to see them. I was wondering how is it to wake up in one of them and look upon the city and the harbor and luckily again, I was to find out later.

At the tourist office, like in any other civilized place I’ve seen in Norway where people have to be in a queue for something, you get a number from a machine then wait till your number appears on top of the desk and you go there and get the stuff solved (hopefully). They give away free city maps (my best friend in bergen), sell postcards(first items purchased there), give information on the city, places, fjords, whatnots (though a queue for information should be separated from the one where you only need stamps). And all over the place there are tons of flyers with things to do in bergen and the surroundings. Fjordtrips, here I come next I hope. And another desk helps people to find accomodation.And if you make a bit of effort to read the stuff on the ‘walls’ you end up knowing some of the city history (effort that I didn’t bother with, obviously, as I had such a long day ahead).

There I go, armed with the tourist weapons (camera and map – actually I was just thinking that a combination of a GPS system and a camera to blink or yell or jump around when you are next to some important place to checkout would be quite handy. Let’s not go offtopic) and start my journey through the city.

Bergen more or less resembles a fork with 3 very inequal teeth. So, after checking the map, I plan to see the King Haakon’s place on the right tooth, the aquarium on the middle then see what next. But before going along any of them, since I was across the fishmarket, I just went there. Not a big market, but still fun to walk around it and see all sort of fishes sold there and prepared in more or less specific ways. As I was taking photos of the stands, a guy asked where I was from and when he heard Romania, he asked why do we speak so many languages in Romania (?). He met few people from there and they were all speaking differently. Not sure what he meant, but in the end I was offered to try anything there was for sale. But at 9 AM I didn’t quite feel like giving my stomach a hard time so I passed. I left after I taught him to say ‘How are you?’ and ‘I’m fine’. Later on I heard that if you want, you can end up having a good meal for free there just by trying out various stuff that people sell.

From there I decided to go to the funicular first, before the other tourists wake up and make 2 hours long queues (dunno if it happens, but was too early to fight paranoia). Once up there you come to think if you’re still on Earth and why can’t all of it look like that. I better let the pics do the talking.

Back to my plans, I walk to the castle (walking in this city feels a lot like walking back in time. Even if there are cars passing by, MacDonalds and boats around, the small paved streets, the look of the houses, the forests around don’t say anything about the 21st century. This I felt everyime I walked but it’s useless to mention it often and again, the pics will explain it). Another lucky moment, when I enter the yard and I go forward to see what a sign says (pic here) the tower that was mentioned in the sign just opened its doors. Well, not magically, but a guy dressed in a…some suit specific to castle servants, no idea what the word for that is…opened the door. I guess that if I had been there earlier, I might have missed it. It was a nice museum showing pieces of the tower’s history and evolution and you could walk all the way down and up and see all sort of chambers and even nicer, they explain what made them think that chamber X was used as a guard room or as the throne room, etc.

Once outside, I cross the street and end up at a sign saying Ferry to the aquarium. Well, going back on this ‘fork tooth’ and then taking a walk on the next one to the aquarium would have been around 20-25 mins as a woman told me. But what the heck. Let’s spend 20 kr on a trip across the water since I think I am starting to be on water. It was a very very tiny boat going every 10 mins and ‘drove’ by an old man. It took like 3-4 mins. Using the map and the nice signs telling you in which direction the aquarium is, I got there. And hey, lucky me again. They were just feeding the penguins and doing a bit of ‘trainings’ with them to the delighment of the children around. There were two nice ladies doing that and the good thing is that they both had microphones and were explaining to the crowd about the animals and what and why they do this or that. Both Norwegian and English. Then we moved to the seals pool where I got to see some tricks. Sweet creatures and even nicer, one of them is a movie star. Inside the aquarium, they have a pool where you can get your hand inside the water and touch and feel whatever’s there (plants, fishes, crabs). One guy caught a crab and showed it to his kid. But I think my fingers look still ok so I didn’t make an attempt. And since petting a fish seemed pointless, I just tried to see how few plants feel. Guess wet and slicky.

As I was leaving the aquarium, I got an SMS from the couchsurfing guy I was going to stay at.So there I was running back to the fishmarket even if ever 5 meters I felt like stopping and taking other pics. So later I had to return. He met me, told me he has other 2 surfers at his place, an Aussie guy and an American girl. He lives pretty close to the funicular place in a Norwegian looking like house (and quite welcoming as atmosphere). See pics. The other guests were supposed to leave by then, but they both changed plans. Only thr Aussie was there though. And he, the host, had a tone of DVDs with lots of series and movies so those two days, they pretty much spent them watching Entourage. On the way to his home, pe wassed through a street which according to the panner hung at its entrance says it is the oldest street in Bergen. The guy had no idea though. Guess not everyone is born to be a guide. Some are just hosts.

After 30 mins of interacting with people, since I was too restless, I took off (yea, it felt as if I was flying) to see the rest of the city. A guy called stomach though kept yelling at me so I had to make a pit stop at the fish market because since I was there first time I really wanted to try some of those salads or sandwiches that they served there. I bought a plate of sea fruits(?) or whatever the generic name for these creatures is. It was actually a plastic box, maybe the size of McDonalds’ salads. It had shrimps, a slice of salmon, black roe, some white unidentified fish meat, lots of salad, tomatoes, a sliceof lemon and one of egg). That plus a loaf=100 Kr. Scump, dom’le, scump. But well, not everyone sees Bergen everyday. I grabbed my salad and bread, the dressing and a fork and went and sat on a bench close to the water. A japanaese guy came and sat next to me. He bought himself a sandwich and before eating it started to take photos from various angles. The other sandwiches must have been really envious for this one was such a superstar. Oh well, I take enough pics so I shouldn’t actually comemnt on other habbits in this regard. Back to my food. I only ate half of it as it fills your stomach quickly so I started to throw breadcrumbs at the pigeon that landed next to me. Yey, happy guy. Then another one joined, and another, and another. Festing! Then a crow showed up, but was kinda shy and it was stealing pieces of bread then going a bit down on the rocks to eat. But when a big seagul came, the show was over. The big guy looked like a lion guarding his prey and he was more or less trying to bite all the other birds around him (or her…maybe. Makes more sense).

Off I am again with the plan to go back towards the aquarium and take pics. But, I had a show stopper on the way. An ad inf ront of a book shop having an offer that sounded like ‘Discworld series, all books at half price’. I wasn’t quite sure I read it right, so went in and asked a lady if it’s true. She told me it is and it’s about the end of the promotion and I’m pretty sure she didn’t lie, considering the number of books left on the shelves. So I did what crazy people do, and bought me about 15 books for about 700 Kr. And next time I buy books from these shops (Outland) I get two books for free. Cool.

Back to the guy’s place (he’s hosting so many people that he is used that the last person who leaves the house puts the key into the mailbox. Not sure how sfae it is, so far was ok). The American girl was there so I get to meet her as well. I get the appropriate comments for the books I bought, then I leave again.

Guess this is when I took most of the pics from the city. And on the same walk, but later on the day, I took the nighttime ones. To add few words about it… it’s such a friendly and warm and cozy place. Those small streets, most of them not having asphalt but pavement, with small houses painted in nice joyful colors and overall fitting well together, the flowers all over the place (windows, balconies) and the silence. Broken by some boat’s signal occasionally or a car driving by, but mainly silent. Think I am starting to learn again this word and what it really means. For me it was just enjoyable to take one step after another and simply turn right or left if I felt like, take a new pic…more steps, change direction again.

All that led me to the venue of the concert (see all pics from it here and I decided to check it out. There was a bus with Swedish plates outside and I was telling myself ‘hm, what if this is Meshugga’s?’. I go in, I end up in a room where people were arranging all the merchandise that was to be sold. Tons of tshirts and jewelry. No idea if there was media as well but I couldn’t care less. I was already done shopping for that trip. A girl with lots of blue stripes in her long dark hair and lots of piercings. Oh well, I decide to move further and see what’s in the next room. Hmm, I hear drums. Speeeeedy and heavy. And there was my luck again. It was Haake trying out the drumkit. Too bad it was at the end so I only heard few minutes but still enough to feel lucky. Then, the sound engineers took over and everyone started to move around me, carrying stuff, fixing wires etc. I even started to laugh since I was the only one not doing anything. And since I was feeling bad about it, I started taking pics. The funny thing is that nobody asked me anything. So in order to solve this communication issue, I went to one of the technicians and asked what’s the number of people expected at the festival and he said there were 700 tickets sold. And since the feeling of being useless there started to be overwhelming, I left.

Went back to the guy’s place as my legs were going on a strike and chatted with the American girl for a while (the Aussie left to stay somewhere else for the night) as she wants to start working in Norway and I shared some of my experience. On the way though, I stopped to buy few supplies and at the supermaket there was a gipsy man begging and asking for money so he could go back to Romania. If only they used the money for that…But eventually later I got an SMS from Lars’ brother and he and his friends were already at the concert so I left again happy that I won’t be alone at the festival.

On the way to the festival, I was asked by some drunk young guy how much do I take. I was thinking to reply that I don’t take, I give but well, it was safer to just keep quiet and play deaf.

I met Ola at the fest place called UTF. From what I noticed, I was the only one not wearing black. I actually had a light blue hoodie on me and a red jacket around my waist. But later on there was a guy with white jeans. I felt no longer so unique 🙂 And few minutes before I left, a guy in a white costume like the one worn by those people who see for radioactive stuff, except the face mask, showed up. He even had white rubber gloves.

A while after I arrived, I got a call from the other couchsurfer i know in Bergen, Andre, so went out and met him, esp as I was curious how his trip around Baltics went. He showed me the vase made by one of A-Ha members, took me to a nice and cozy bar where I drank a coke and told me of his adventures. Then he had to catch a bus to a party but for me it would have been useless to go since I wanted to be back to the festival in like 1h and it would have meant only 10-15 mins at the party. So I returned, took more night pics, and got there in time to see Behemoth. Nice energic show, but I am not so familiar with their music. But I like to see bands who play with passion like they did. Then, Meshuggaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. 20 mins before if started or so, Ola’s friend, Ola and I went in front. So we were in the 2nd row on the right of the stage. We were talking about how I’d see on the stage and they told me that eventually I can ask the girl in front of me (who was about the same height as me) to move a little so I could see. And the girl turned around and said ‘I’ll do anything you ask me to’. I told her that I am flattered by the offer and it is a very interesting one.

Anyways, MMMMmmmmmmmmesshugggggaaaaaaahhhhhh. So I started in the 2nd row. But after the first riff was heard (actually Haake teased us a while before they started, but I guess they also had some issues since there were too many sound guys on the stage checking the monitors) I felt the crowd falling on me from the left so luckily – again – I could move right next to the guy who was next to the girl with the above offer. In the first row that is. It was straight in front of the speakers, but they were not too tall so I could see perfectly. Actually I stared almost all the concert at the guitarist and bassist and the drummer since I could see the incredible way they played all night long. Haake lost a drumstick at the beginning and he was kinda hillarious till he got a new one, but overall, I think not even an octopuss can beat that guy. From the playlist, I mention Bleed, Pravus (mmm), Rational Gase, the Mouth licking what you’ve bled and at the end, Future Breed machine that set everyone on fire (including me) and I headbanged so heavy I thought my neck would break. Luckily it didn’t. They said they’ll put up pics on metalshots.com so I am looking forward to that now.

I only stayed for 2 of Carcass songs. Could hardly stand and I had to walk back. Got a bit confused on the streets at some point, but made it perfectly safe and all I remember was laying on the mattress. I think the American girl came back a while after me and I told her a little about the concert. But dunno what else (and not because of the beer since I hardly had 3 that day).

Wake up, pack stuff and since the guy who hosted us had to leave to play football then to a party, I took my stuff to the train station then left to see the remaining places according to the map. I saw the botanical garden, too bad the tropical house was closed. So I enjoyed watching the fishes in the water lillies’ water and a cat watching them but being to scared to try the water. From there I walked a little and got to the Naval museum or so. They had a lot of ship models, of old ships pieces and as usually when I’m in a museum and wonder what kind of stories those things can tell, I find it fascinating.

In the end, before leaving, I stop at a supermarket and buy me something to eat. I think pasta and chicken with rice.

You can embark on the train 30 mins before if leaves. It is really clean inside, I had a seat right in the vagon with cafeteria. When I sat down, I was a bit confused about the seat number, and since I wanted to look out through the window, I sad on the one next to the window, obviously. A 20 year old or younger guy came and asked me ‘Are you sitting there?’. I was puzzled for few seconds since to me it was kinda obvious that indeed, I was sitting there. So I replied with a long yes. Then it turned out I took his place. Oh well, luckily there were other empty places around there for few hours so I could just sit by the window and get enchanted. I mean, I knew from before that this part of the world has some extreme beauties when it comes to landscapes, but when you actually get to see them with your own eyes, you are incapable of understanding how can there be so many of them one after another. Words are totally useless unless I invent some new ones to combine all the superlatives for beautiful, amazing, awesome, magic, incredible, etc. Yea,limited vocabulary. So enjoy the pics.

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